All Eyes on the NRA
As the National Rifle Association (NRA) has grown to become the largest political force as America’s defender of the Second Amendment, its extravagance in trying to change gun control policies have also implemented fear among American citizens. With the increasing vote for gun control, numerous questions have surfaced. The most important being this: Are the intentions of the NRA socially accepted with its irrationalities? The NRA is seen at its best when using false and irrational information in their digital videos to manipulate viewers (Luo). The ethical behavior of the NRA has been widely scrutinized, with supporters arguing “gun control isn’t crime control” through propaganda and others in favor of gun control(Davidson). I argue that NRA uses unethical tactics to achieve their popularity and voice their platforms.
The National Rifle Association has stood since 1871, and is an American nonprofit organization that advocates for gun rights. It is constructed of five million members who strive to advance rifle marksmanship and educate citizens on firearm safety and competency. According the NRA itself, “since its inception, [the NRA] has been the premier firearms education organization in the world”(Nat’l Rifle Association). They have also published hundreds of magazines and digital videos that influence legislation and have initiated lawsuits.
The NRA has been deemed one of the most feared lobbying organization in the nation’s capital since its shift in campaigning. One of the key differences between the NRA’s sedated past and its current dignity is about how they communicate about guns, gun control, and the organization itself. In Osha Davidson’s book Under Fire: The NRA and the Battle for Gun Control, he writes about the rise of the NRA from a political perspective. It is suggested that the 1977 Gun Revolt helped facilitate this shift in which they pushed to be a political force and cultivated the gun culture war. It is noted in the book that Ronald Reagan and Harlon Carter “climbed the steps to invincibility” and gained slightly over one million members (Davidson). Since then the NRA has accumulated over five million members; however, the NRA’s rhetorical overkill would come back to bite them.
A primary reason the NRA is unethical is the language they choose to facilitate in. In Scott Melzer’s book Gun Crusaders: The NRA’s Culture War, he describes in what ways the NRA appeal to citizens. After the numerous changes in campaigning, recruitment videos narrated by Charlton Heston were made in which he “warned that Americans could easily lose their Second Amendment gun rights, and, if that happened, the torch of freedom would lose its flame” (Melzer). In time Heston became favored by his fellow “crusade” and shed spotlight on the religious and moral aspects of gun freedom. His ideology in which he stated, “…the European Jews feared to admit their faith. The Nazis forced them to wear yellow stars…so what color star will they pin on gun owners’ chests?” was to remind people that gun rights are a faith and should not be given over. The fact that NRA advocates are comparing the Holocaust to gun rights is undeniably offensive and threatening to religious people. The NRA’s shift in campaigning have managed to target gun right advocates who offend different cultures and still do today.
NRA is notoriously known for generating support by influencing people’s perceptions even though they do not match reality. In a Law journal published by Scott Medlock NRA=No Rational Argument, he covers how the NRA has managed to become so powerful by irrational means. For example, the NRA strongly encourages the perception that individual safety coincides with gun ownership. One way they help depict this is their “Armed Citizens” section of NRA magazines where they share memoirs of them protecting themselves from crime with guns. As one could see this presents itself as one “taking control of their own destiny” but in reality, it may have not been the best decision (Medlock). The NRA also emphasizes that police cannot protect society therefore, firearms are used as an equalizer. A popular slogan by the NRA is “rapists love gun control” implying that women are more vulnerable to attacks when they are unarmed (Medlock). This is not only offensive, it is also sexist and should be unappealing to women. The NRA is exceptionally good at depicting the world as a hazardous place in these ways and many more.
Perhaps the most unethical behaviorbehind the NRA are their media tactics. Currently speaking, the NRATV have released a collection of videos on the Web that have gone past the status quo of the NRA. In one video that the NRATV released, they directed it toward The Times for sharing their violent protesters in the news. The video was narrated by spokeswoman, Loesch, who expressed her solution as “to smash windows, burn cars, shut down interstates and airports, bully and terrorize the law-abiding, until the only option left is for the police to do their jobs and stop the madness.” (Lou) The NRA also went after The Washington Post when a comment was made after Dom Raso, a former Navy Seal, narrated a video expressing his political opinion on government as “an anarchy, led by people who hate our President and who hate the people who support him” (Lou). By repeating the same messages and arguments, the supporters begin to regurgitate themselves without a doubt. The same words are inserted into the sub consciousness of all NRA supporters. It is obvious they use their media platforms to assassinate the real news.
In contrast, supporters argue that the NRA is not unethical because they take safety precautions very seriously. There has been heavier talk about whether or not teacher should be armed at school and what precautions it has on safety. In Shah Yagana’s articleNRA Aims to Arm Teachers, Personnel for School Safety, she focuses in on the NRA’s stance on safety in the school system. She reported that the NRA claims that arming teachers and other personnel is the best approach to combat gun violence in schools (Shah). The group also assessed schools all over the country for “security vulnerabilities”, best practices and technologies (Shah). The assessment of schools should be a priority to help prevent school shootings, but arming teachers isn’t the best solution. This creates a gap of authority; one that the NRA casts on its supporters. I argue this authoritative stratagem is a way for the NRA to gain support by irrational and false accusations. Although they may want to protect students, it is just another way to have a necessity for gun usage in America.
NRA supporters value their commitment to national charities such as Speedway Children’s Charities. In one instance, they teamed up at the Starkey Hearing Foundation to “deliver the gift of hearing to more than 70 underserved children and adults throughout the Carolinas” (Starkey Hearing Foundation). They had NASCAR racers there to sign autographs and take pictures. However, recently after the Parkland high school shooting the SMI (Speedway Motor Inc.) is still devoted to the NRA. According to USA Today, it is untold as to why they still share a partnership, but they “have been a good long-standing partnership and plan to continue”(Hembree). From a NRA advocate’s point of view, they are helping people in need, especially children which is a positive thing. But why are they doing it? It seems like NRA is hanging on by its last string by putting on a mask society is familiar with.
In summary, I argue that the National Rifle Association utilizes unethical policies to reiterate a simple message- one being that guns are harmless and a sign of freedom.The NRA clearly utilizes guns as an excuse for their outrage. This group primarily seeks to gain membership by exploiting different types of people and their cultures. Through their unacceptable jargon and manipulation, the NRA finds its way to get a handle on a way to appeal to certain types of people whether it be women, children, or mothers. They also produce fearful videos that pose threats on other groups/people that do not stand with them. With the NRA climbing to five million members, it results in a feared society. If society shows they are not fearful by continuing to speak out the NRA will be overworked. I encourage citizens to keep scrutinizing the NRA for understanding and rebuttal. The NRA has preyed on fear and hate for several years now. As the NRA grows, I hope they can find different ways to voice their opinions.
As my final assignment for Focused Inquiry I was asked to demonstrate ethical reasoning in an argument using academic research. I chose to gear my mind toward gun control because of recent incidents where guns and its supporters have created major controversy in society. After doing surface level research, my ethical argument stood as a question that illegitimates the NRA and traces back to why the NRA has become feared. Through my research I found it easy to find articles, journals, videos, and other media platforms that criticize the NRA and do not favor their group. Although I found a vast amount of information, I thought it would be most useful to my audience if I focused on the shift in policy, how the NRA evokes fear in society through language, and their media usage to reiterate their simple message. It was harder for me to come up with a counter argument due to my morals and the Web itself because the majority of society does not favor the NRA; the only sources I found were from the NRA themselves. My goal in this essay was to put in perspective what the NRA is like and how they carry themselves for the sake of students and others who aren’t aware of such a fearful group.